Mark Rifkin

Mark Rifkin is a critic with This Week in New York Blog. This account has been auto-generated, and does not indicate that this person is an active member of Show-Score.com. That said, if you "follow" this member, you will automatically be updated whenever s/he writes a new review.

If you are this critic, please see the instructions on how to add reviews, update your profile, or make changes to your excerpts and scores.

Reviews (132)
This Week in New York Blog

“The play can be described as plain and ordinary...a rarity for Jonathan Bank’s supremely talented and otherwise consistently dependable Mint...’The Mountains Look Different’, which was inspired by Eugene O’Neill’s ‘Anna Christie’, never ignites. It is a one-note morality play, lacking depth and nuance, directed with overly straightforward precision by actor Aidan Redmond. The acting is fine...The story surrounding the play is more intriguing than the play itself.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"There might be a handful of cool stories, but most of it is just not that interesting to strangers...A few of the tales stand out...But most of the anecdotes don’t have much of a point, and the writing is not sharp enough to sustain the length; you might think that he would delve into the refugee crisis, but that doesn’t come up that much...It’s a pleasant show, but it’s more like a nice day trip than an epic journey." Full Review

Southern Promises
Soho/Tribeca
This Week in New York Blog

“It’s unsettling to watch the play...This revised version of ‘Southern Promises’ is like a mini-'Roots,' going beyond the systemic racism that has been America’s shame for four hundred years to reveal how the concept of race and its power corrupts even the seemingly most well meaning of people. The night I attended, an awkward, uneasy moment at the curtain call uncovered society’s continuing pain...This country still has a lot of work to do.” Full Review

Strangers in the World
West Village
This Week in New York Blog

"Randy Sharp uses the mysterious tale of the Lost Colony of Roanoke as inspiration for her dark, flummoxing new play...As with all Axis productions, 'Strangers in the World' is technically adept, with solid acting, a compelling set, fab costumes, and an appropriately creepy sound design...The narrative is as cold and distant as the hellish land where the Puritans have been apparently sentenced to spend eternity." Full Review

Daddy
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

"A monumental work of bold genius, a searing, audacious investigation into the creation and ownership of both art and people, constructed around the sins of the father...The pool is more than a cool part of the set; it also serves as a baptismal font, making us all believe in the power of art and theater...Even though the ending is muddy, 'Daddy' is an extraordinary piece of storytelling, a masterful work of art that demands to be seen." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“A superb revival...The pacing of the two-and-a-half-hour show matches Sir Thomas’s approach to life, dignified and steady; it’s a talky play, but it never gets bogged down, since the words are so exquisite. The cast is uniformly excellent...In addition, Scott-Reed doesn’t force contemporary relevance onto the narrative, as references to fake news, governmental corruption, and lies arise naturally in the audience’s mind; explicit references would only get in the way.” Full Review

About Alice
Brooklyn
This Week in New York Blog

“Trillin brings to life his inspiring relationship with his wife in the heartfelt, beautifully rendered ‘About Alice’...Bean is terrific as Calvin, calm and easygoing, his eyes aglow with his deep love for his wife. And Paff is luminous as an extraordinary, multifaceted woman with a passion for everything she did; it won’t take long before you fall in love with her too. Alice was often a character in Calvin’s writing, but she becomes so much more in this moving tribute to a lovely human being.” Full Review

Slave Play
East Village
This Week in New York Blog

"'Slave Play' is a hard-hitting look at America’s shameful past, an investigation into slavery, racism, white privilege, and political correctness that will have you laughing nervously as you shift uncomfortably in your seat...Harris and Obie-winning director Robert O’Hara keep the audience rapt but uneasy throughout." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“A blistering, explosive play, a searing deep dive into systemic and institutionalized racism in contemporary America...All four actors give dynamic, honest performances, led by Washington...‘American Son’ wisely avoids clichés and melodrama, although there is some emotional manipulation, but it’s easy to look past that and immerse yourself in the onstage dilemma — and wonder what you would do." Full Review

Downstairs
West Village
This Week in New York Blog

“’Downstairs’ unfolds in a series of primarily two-person scenes beautifully orchestrated by director Adrienne Campbell-Holt...Tim and Tyne have the chemistry of a brother and sister who love and care about each other, playing the same; they deliver Rebeck’s sharply unpredictable dialogue with a natural, rhythmic flow, while character actor extraordinaire Procaccino is terrific...’Downstairs’ is one basement that is well worth visiting for 105 eerily enticing minutes.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"The two-hour presentation features music, dance, an eight-course menu with drinks, and a fine dose of Shakespeare, all stirred together for an appetizing evening...'Shake & Bake: Love’s Labor’s Lost' is a sweet and savory treat, even for Shakespeare purists...Goodrich and Fredrick are a particularly attractive Berowne and Rosaline among an appealing cast." Full Review

Mother of the Maid
East Village
This Week in New York Blog

“An intimate and involving play...A moving, poignant mother-daughter drama; at its heart is the age-old story of a beloved child leaving the nest, only in this case on the wings of angels, and with a bit more at risk. Van Patten holds her own with Close...Most of the action occurs offstage, but the narrative never feels explanatory...A familiar historical tale told from a different perspective, breathing new life into an ever-beguiling warhorse, anchored by a pair of outstanding actors.” Full Review

Apologia
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

“Successful art historian and proud humanist Kristin makes no apologies for the choices she’s made...Channing is passionate and unrelenting as Kristin...She manages to keep the selfish, smug, and snarky writer from becoming too villainous or a mere relic from a different time...Dancy excels as both sons...Tillinger does his best with Hugh, a thankless part that merely serves as comic relief...Aukin guides the actors through some familiar, clichéd territory that is too straightforward.” Full Review

Emma & Max
Soho/Tribeca
This Week in New York Blog

"Wickedly funny and all too real...The play is a sharply observant skewering of the status quo in a Trump America that continues to encounter racism, bigotry, and hatred every day and where the term 'privilege' has become a dirty word...It’s also a place where payback can be a bitch, where there are consequences for physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. It’s not a happy situation, but it’s damn funny and frighteningly realistic, a mirror brilliantly held up to a society in crisis." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"It helps if you are open to just about anything; participation is encouraged but not mandatory...The transitions are ragged from the very start...At other times groups are led into locations where something is already going on, ends, and then a new scene begins, causing confusion...Regardless, it’s all still a lot of fun...Von Buhler has a great feel for the Prohibition era, and she knows how to titillate her audience, with song, dance, magic, drink, and ample nudity...A spirited evening." Full Review

Tevye Served Raw
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

for a previous production “A sweet and savory side dish to accompany the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene’s rousing adaptation of ‘Fiddler’ in Yiddish...There’s a riotously funny encore...It’s all a great deal of fun...It’s all a great deal of fun, with the Belarus-born, Ukraine-raised Shmulenson standing out among the three, portraying a wide range of female characters with zest and flair. Baker and Rickman make a fine comic duo with vaudevillian instincts. 'Tevye Served Raw' is a tasty little treat." Full Review

Mary Page Marlowe
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

"The best play I’ve ever seen about the life and times of a woman written by a man...Letts and director Lila Neugebauer...do a beautiful job moving from scene to scene; even though events happen out of order, Mary Page is in a constant state of progression...The six amazing women who play Mary Page flow into one another seamlessly, helping make her one person with many distinct aspects." Full Review

Skintight
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

“Another clever and insightful, if occasionally repetitive and overwrought, drama of family relationships...Aukin guides the characters with an assured hand...But it’s difficult to accept Jack and Jodi as father and daughter; they lack...connection...Trey is so over the top...like he’s from a different play...Harmon delves into the nature of superficiality but doesn’t dig quite deep enough, although he still comes up with another entertaining night at the theater.” Full Review

Teenage Dick
East Village
This Week in New York Blog

“Terrifically titled play...A bumpy ride that bites off more than it can chew, trying to be too much instead of maintaining its focus while making important points about the disabled...Von Stuelpnagel can’t quite get rid of all the choppiness in Lew’s script, which caroms too quickly between realism and abstraction while deciding how close it will or won’t stick to Shakespeare’s general plot. It works best when it stays on point...Doesn’t quite live up to its awesome title.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“The opening scenes are terrific, a smart, hysterically funny reinterpretation of Albee’s original...Starts out like a wild and raunchy, NSFW Carol Burnett Show skit, with clever wordplay as the characters explore sexual boundaries, self-oppression, and the lowly human condition...But the play soon devolves into too much self-parody and repetition, going way over the top...A slash-fiction version that is unable to sustain its seventy-five-minute length.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“A lifeless drama...Feels more like an instructional primer on what to do when a loved one is dying than a dramatic work that sheds light on what can be a devastating time...Neugebauer has little to work with here, unable to bring life to Thorne’s deadening dialogue and forced conflicts...Despite an extremely talented director and an acting legend, Thorne’s debut is on life support from the beginning, and it goes on far too long before the plug is pulled.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“A wickedly funny adaptation...The action unfolds across ten scenes in two acts...Superbly directed by Rashad, who gives ample space to each actor to establish their character and deliver Guirgis’s incisive dialogue, which sizzles like street poetry...What shines through most...is the writing itself...The cast is exceptional, an outstanding ensemble that hits all the right notes...A ferociously funny tale about realistic people facing tragedy in realistic ways.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“A talented, diverse cast of six performs multiple roles each, without regard to age, race, gender, or physical ability...There are continuity issues; you don’t always know who someone is or what they’re doing...The entire show is open captioned on a small digital monitor near the back center of the stage. While it is admirable...its location is endlessly distracting....The different styles of language don’t always meld together; while some scenes are exceptional, others fall flat.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“Rashad is charming as Joan...Rashad’s Joan is sweet-natured but determined, gentle yet forceful, a kind of hero just right for the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter generation. Joan goes about the world of men with an ease that emanates from her faith...Exemplary cast...Sullivan’s direction can get a little bumpy though there are several deft touches, and at nearly three hours, the show can be a little trying. Which brings us to the rather campy epilogue.” Full Review

Rocktopia
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

"A different kind of jukebox musical, with no narrative, consisting of overly familiar songs...An up-and-down affair, as vocal histrionics get carried away, the setlist is about as standard as it comes, and amateurish, seemingly unrelated visuals are projected onto fifteen large, vertical piano keys...But then something magical happens, where it all suddenly comes together for an absolutely smashing last few numbers that brought the crowd to its feet." Full Review

Link Link Circus
Upper E Side
This Week in New York Blog

"Thoroughly charming and wholly educational...Serving as ringmaster, Rossellini uses wacky humor, playfully silly costumes, cardboard cutouts...and other oddities to take a look at animals...concentrating primarily on intelligence, the mind, and consciousness...Rossellini is warm and engaging in her role...There’s a sweet Pee-wee’s Playhouse vibe to the production and the feeling that anything can happen at any moment...An enormous amount of fun." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"She’ll make you squirm and cringe over and over again, but you won’t be able to take your eyes off the train wreck of a relationship at the center of this bitter black comedy...She doesn’t exactly tie it all up in a cute little bow at the end, instead continuing our discomfort until the lights go out — and the unique experience of the play follows us out into the street, sticking with us like an aching bruise that just won’t go away." Full Review

Life Sucks.
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

for a previous production "One of the best plays of 2019, Aaron Posner’s outrageously funny, irreverent reimagining...Wise controls the glorious chaos as the barriers between what is real and what isn’t break down in hysterical ways, but it’s key to understand that the characters are always the characters, never the actors portraying them...The cast is splendid...A 'Vanya' for the twenty-first century, a brilliant skewering of contemporary values and, in the end, a triumphant celebration of that little thing called li... Full Review

Dying in Boulder
East Village
This Week in New York Blog

"A fairly standard work about death and aging...The play is as much about sisters as it is death, but neither Jane nor Lydia is a compelling character. Lydia is too shrill and disbelieving, while Jane is overly woo-woo...Morgan is unable to grab hold of any significant conflict to drive the story until it’s too late; it would have benefited by being trimmed from two acts and two hours to about eighty minutes without intermission." Full Review

Maverick
East Village
This Week in New York Blog

"Demas is terrific as the auteur-magician; he might not be as big as Welles was in 1985, and his voice is not as deep and resonant, but he wonderfully captures Welles’s deceptively whimsical nature, intense curiosity...and endless imagination and charm....There’s a franticness to it all that matches the legends of Welles’s working methods, where anything could happen at any moment, all overseen by an iconoclastic mastermind and ambitious visionary who was so often ahead of his time." Full Review

Eddie and Dave
Chelsea
This Week in New York Blog

“Very funny show...None of the actors attempts to impersonate the famous people they portray, instead turning them into eccentric characters who say and do a lot of dumb but endearing stuff...Gleefully directed by Margot Bordelon, 'Eddie and Dave' is a highly original mini-soap-rock opera that would delight Wayne and Garth, a fun and snarky account of a group...Still not a Van Halen fan, but I definitely have a newfound admiration for their wild and wacky tale." Full Review

The Ferryman (NYC)
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

“'The Ferryman’ is a staggering achievement, everything a Broadway play should be and more...Mendes superbly navigates the play’s many complexities, making three hours and fifteen minutes virtually float by...An ensemble piece, not dependent on any individual performances, although a baby and a goose stand out. That said, it is a treat to see English actor Considine make his stage debut as Quinn...Butterworth delivered what is currently the best play on Broadway.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“A consistently very, very funny play, but, like Nottage’s later works, it also faces such issues as race, gender, and class head-on...Nottage and...Blain-Cruz keep the belly laughs coming...Boothe is fabulous as Undine, beautifully handling her character’s fast fall from grace and her frantic desire to get back up again, if she possibly can ever face reality. The rest of the cast excels in multiple small roles that represent and challenge the notion of black stereotypes with humor." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“Uneven...Comparing the Trump administration to a gang of criminals is not unfamiliar to this audience...Thus, as a cautionary tale, ‘Ui’ feels too late. Combined with inconsistent acting and pacing and too many scattershot elements that don’t come together, ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’ turns out to be not irresistible.” Full Review

Nassim
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

"A delightful and moving autobiographical work about language, heritage, and the deep need for artists to tell stories...While a significant part of the fun is watching how the guest actor deals with being put on the spot time and time again, Soleimanpour...is also sharing an intimate story that we can all relate to...Ultimately, you’ll leave City Center knowing a little more about the guest actor, a lot more about Soleimanpour, and even a few things about yourself." Full Review

King Kong (NYC)
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

“It isn’t beauty that kills the beast in the Broadway bust ‘King Kong’; it’s the music, lyrics, and story that lack the charm to soothe this savage breast...’King Kong’ himself is spectacular...Unfortunately, the rest of the show is a hot mess. The songs...lack any kind of nuance...The direction and choreography is often head-scratchingly absurd...Thorne’s book puts too much of the focus on Darrow...resulting in yet another tired musical about a poor country girl desperate to make it big." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"Hall keeps us mesmerized with just the right amount of confusion to make us wonder what is real and what isn’t, what is truth and what is not. When he asks several times if we like magic, he is also referring to the magic of theater, which Eno and director Oliver Butler tear down rather elegantly. It’s a disorienting yet exhilarating experience, a journey into the digressive nature of life...and the mind of a man trying to find his place in the world, just like we all are." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“I am a fan of Larissa FastHorse’s extremely funny and spot-on 'The Thanksgiving Play'...Von Stuelpnagel lets Bareilles, Bean, Seibert, and Keller run rampant...The farce gets out of hand at times, working better when it stays more grounded...We recognize parts of ourselves in the four characters...Thus, there are moments in the show when you are likely to hesitate before laughing, wondering whether you are being insensitive by enjoying yourself too much.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"The glorious production is everything a work by Vonnegut should be: surreal, unpredictable, laugh-out-loud hysterical, extraordinarily intelligent, bold, daring, and challenging...Director Jeffrey Wise has a firm grasp of the material, in total control of the chaos...It’s pure Vonnegut: a potent look at America — and how much it hasn’t changed in nearly fifty years...An all-around triumph, one of the best plays of the season, and a sharp reminder of Vonnegut’s immense legacy." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"Director Lee Sunday Evans does a superb job preventing the play from becoming didactic, pedantic, or just plain boring; the dialogue interplay among the three equally excellent actresses, who move chairs around in various scenes, keeps things proceeding at a fluid pace." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

for a previous production “Dazzling...Directed with verve and style by Tony and Oscar winner Grey...The Yiddish version offers neat little twists on the language...and reconfigures numerous lines to match the rhythm and meaning in Yiddish...Excellent cast...Could have felt dated and old-fashioned, instead is very much of the moment in the wake of the immigrant and refugee crisis currently going on in America and around the world...Another big hit for the talented troupe.” Full Review

Girls & Boys
West Village
This Week in New York Blog

“Mulligan is brilliant as a wife and mother telling the gripping story of her family in Kelly’s engrossing one-woman show...Kelly and Turner expertly pace the Royal Theatre production, carefully revealing key bits of plot before a critical moment occurs about two-thirds of the way through, setting up the shocking finale...Mulligan is extraordinary as the woman...High-quality, powerful theater...Her story is likely to stay in your mind and heart for a long, long time.” Full Review

Conflict
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

“Impeccably staged...An exceptional 1925 romantic political tale...Directed with wit and verve...’Conflict’ never descends into preachy pablum as it explores the socioeconomic and cultural differences among rich and poor, conservative and liberal, male and female in post-WWI England...An elegant and precise work that demands close attention, filled with myriad small touches that almost pass you by as you get caught up in its all-too-relevant story of strange bedfellows indeed.” Full Review

Fruit Trilogy
West Village
This Week in New York Blog

“Three short experimental pieces that are still in need of some ripening...Engaging, fearless performers, but Rosenblatt can’t get a firm enough grasp of the material or of Wendland’s dark, low-budget sets, which are indeed somewhat confusing. Although it takes on some tough, serious topics, the trilogy is too long...with too much repetition in the overly clever dialogue that continues well after the point has been made. It feels like ‘Fruit Trilogy’ is still at the workshop stage.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

for a previous production “The New Jersey native has proved...that he is right at home on the Great White Way...More reminiscent of his solo tours...Yet it is not a concert...’Springsteen on Broadway’ is a moving, powerful exploration of a man and his innate, unquenchable desire to become a successful musician...Springsteen has always been an engaging storyteller, and he takes it to the next level on Broadway, unafraid to reveal his faults along with his triumphs.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“Eyre’s deeply intimate staging of O’Neill’s autobiographical masterpiece...A stunning, slightly amended production...Howell’s set is staggeringly breathtaking...Eyre focuses on conversations between two characters, making it feel like we are invading their privacy, intruding on this dysfunctional family...The cast is exceptional, led by a brilliant performance by Manville...As dark as the play is, Eyre holds out just enough hope that this time things will turn around for the Tyrones.” Full Review

The Gentleman Caller
West Village
This Week in New York Blog

“Dawkins uses creative license as he relates what might have happened...The play never really catches fire...No sense of connection between Williams and Inge...Some charming moments but it’s all just a little bit too quaint and calculated...Choppy narrative with questionable plot developments...Doesn’t add much insight into how the relationship between these two great playwrights might have influenced their lives and careers.” Full Review

Paradise Blue
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

“Keeps the spirit of August Wilson alive while further confirming Morrisseau as a rising star in her own right. The play is smoothly directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, like a bandleader orchestrating a jazz number...Nicholson can only do so much as Blue, who is not as fully drawn and fleshed out as the other characters...A minor quibble in what otherwise is an exciting and captivating work that evolves with the rhythm of the blues as it explores race, class, and family legacy.” Full Review

Goldstein
Midtown W
This Week in New York Blog

"'Goldstein' is a quaint, bittersweet musical that moves seamlessly from humor to tragedy...There are no big, show-stopping numbers but instead light tunes that don’t get in the way of the plot...Among the nice touches is the use of the center aisle as a pathway for death and birth. Owen is eminently likable as the narrator, a man facing his own personal issues, while McGinnis proves once again that she has a magical voice." Full Review

Yerma
Upper E Side
This Week in New York Blog

"Stone puts domesticity and obsession under a microscope in the blistering, no-holds-barred 'Yerma'...Every aspect of the production has been ingeniously crafted to organically intersect into a wholly involving and shattering experience that will leave you physically and emotionally exhausted as well as thoroughly exhilarated...Piper is electrifying...It is a brave, bold, unforgettable performance that leaves it all out on the stage, literally and figuratively...Stunning, brutal production." Full Review